When people work with attorneys to create wills, the self-proving affidavits attached to the wills are normally notarized. While this is a standard procedure, it is not required for last wills and testaments in New York. Instead, the state requires that testators have two witnesses sign along with the testator. The witnesses are not required to read the will. Instead, they simply sign acknowledging that the document is the person’s will and that they saw the testator sign it. However, there are benefits to having a will notarized even though it is not required.
Why should you have your will notarized?
After you die, your last will and testament will need to be presented to the court to be validated. If the will is not notarized, the witnesses to your will must be located and present testimony that they saw you sign it. If your will was created long before, the witnesses might have died or have moved away so that they are impossible to locate. When your will is notarized, the witnesses are attesting to the fact that they witnessed you signing your will on a specific date, meaning that their testimony will not be needed later as long as your will contains a self-proving affidavit that you and the witnesses sign. This allows your will to be filed with the court without any witness testimony.
What if an existing will does not have a self-proving affidavit?
If you have an existing will that is not notarized and does not contain a self-proving affidavit, you can add a self-proving codicil to reaffirm the will. This can allow your will to be filed with the court without having to locate witnesses.
People who want to create wills or have old wills that do not include self-proving affidavits might benefit from speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer might review existing wills to make sure that they still reflect the wishes of the testator and their family circumstances. A lawyer might also help to draft a self-proving codicil for an existing will so that locating witnesses will not be necessary.